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Struggling with price hikes, traders drop out of Menu Rahmah initiative

They say the rising costs are making it too difficult for them to continue absorbing the cost of the affordable meals.

MalaysiaNow
2 minute read
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Customers buy lunch at an eatery that serves Menu Rahmah dishes, in Subang, Selangor.
Customers buy lunch at an eatery that serves Menu Rahmah dishes, in Subang, Selangor.

Unable to keep pace with the increase in price of raw goods, many traders say they have withdrawn from the government's Menu Rahmah programme for affordable meals.

Ayob Abd Majid said many of the traders who had joined the initiative were only able to keep up for the first three to four months.

"After that, many dropped out because they could no longer absorb the rising costs of basic food items," Ayob, the chairman of the Ampang Small Traders Association, told MalaysiaNow.

Menu Rahmah, an initiative under the domestic trade and cost of living ministry, is aimed at reducing the burden of low-income groups due to the hike in cost of living. 

The programme, launched in January, seeks to offer balanced meals for RM5 or less. 

Ayob said he himself had joined the initiative, but was eventually forced to stop selling Menu Rahmah meals.

He said traders had participated in the programme as they wanted to support the government's call. 

"Some of them also saw Menu Rahmah as a chance to promote their outlets and draw in more customers," he said. 

"We knew that not everyone would be interested in these meals. But because it was a government initiative, they wanted to support it." 

With the cost of living on the rise, though, Ayob said the government should take immediate measures to control the price of raw goods, adding that small traders were the most at risk. 

"We are facing a crisis," he said. "The government might get upset and say it is not right to drag us into politics. 

"But this is the reality. If we want to buy something at the supermarket, for example cooking oil, we have to queue and there are quotas as well." 

Another trader who introduced herself as Che Azizah said she, too, had been forced to stop offering Menu Rahmah meals at her shop. 

She said the problem was not only the rising cost, but also the problem of finding the necessary food items. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, she said the government did not appear serious about addressing the situation. 

"I don't see the government doing anything," she said. 

"Every day it gets harder to find things, and prices keep going up. I have to go to so many shops just to find rice and cooking oil. I don't know how long my business can keep going." 

Retail tycoon Ameer Ali Mydin however said he would continue as part of the Menu Rahmah initiative despite the rising prices. 

The Mydin hypermarket boss said he was not overly concerned about profits or losses, but rather his responsibility towards the people. 

"I will continue, and we will absorb the costs because if we follow (the prices), they are really going up," he said. 

For example, he said, when the price of rice goes up, his company absorbs 15 sen per plate. 

"So I think even if it goes up, it is still less than our costs." 

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